Cost, time saving and safety benefits of choosing press- fit technologies


Pressed for Time

Bill Barlow, UK Business Unit Director for Conex Bänninger discusses the cost, time saving and safety benefits of choosing press- fit technologies, and specifically three-point over two-point press variants.

The growth and appeal of press-fit technologies have grown steadily since the inception of the product back in the late 1990s when Conex Bänninger first developed it for the domestic market. Fast-forward to the introduction of push-fit fittings, and with it came more choice for installers looking to increase productivity and speed up installation.

Press fittings have become increasingly popular over the last ten years having previously been dismissed by a belief (wrongly) that they weren’t as reliable as the permanency of solder and brazing.

The installer preference for press, push or braze fittings – which still have their place - is the result of a number of factors including training, education, or simply a desire to reduce costs. What’s becoming much clearer in the modern industry though, is the influence that outside factors now play in the decision making process. These include issues such as health and safety regulations, flame-free regulations and the logistical constraints associated with working in tighter spaces.

Most installers are looking for a “fit and forget solution”; completing the job in a good professional manner, but in as quick a time possible. This time saving element has been central to the appeal of press fittings, as the process is significantly faster and negates the requirement to stay on site for hours after completion, which can be the case with flame-based fittings.

Whilst braze is beneficial for some applications (predominantly larger pipe work), for installers it’s increasingly an impractical solution. All solder, brazing and welding works require a “hot works permit” in order to legally complete the job and these are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, certainly when working in tight spaces (domestic environments). Welding also adds additional administrative and insurance premium costs into the mix, which press fittings do not; costs which ultimately eat into profits.

This issue of working in confined spaces is a key factor as in many instances it can be difficult to correctly make a joint when using traditional techniques. If the blowtorch cannot be passed the whole way around the fitting, then there is a real risk that the joint could be incomplete creating a leak as a result.

As a result, press-fit technologies have grown in popularity because there is no need to use heat or solder and it is a very clean, fast and safe method. In addition, installers don’t have to worry about carbon deposits or flux, so there’s less risk of corrosion or subsequent issues arising relating to system flushing. There’s also no localised annealing from high-temperature working.

Conex Bänninger’s >B< Press 3-point press design works by making sure that the pipe is parallel to the fitting before contact is made with the O-ring, greatly reducing the chance of it being damaged during assembly.

The patented EPDM seal features a specially formed section at two positions, which will leak even at low pressures when it has not been pressed (from 0.1 to 6 bar). When pressed correctly, the O-ring material is compressed to form a secure leak free joint. The major benefit with this method is that joints that have been incorrectly pressed can be quickly identified and corrected without the need to drain the system down or a risk having to return to fix joints that have leaked.

Callbacks are costly for everyone concerned, so being able to check for leaks at the point of installation is potentially a huge time saver and stops subsequent leaks. Unlike push-fit systems though, once a joint has been pressed it is permanent, so remedying a problem fitting requires cutting the pipe and installing a new fitting – work which cannot be charged twice.

It is also worth considering using a brand that has a wide portfolio of products. Conex Bänninger’s >B< Press portfolio includes >B< Press Copper, >B< Press Inox, >B< Press Gas, >B< Press Solar and >B< Press Carbon, so is suitable for a variety of applications such as drinking water, cooling water, gas, solar, heating systems, compressed air (oil free), oil/fuel, rainwater and waste; which is important for installers working in domestic and commercial environments and in more specialist sectors.